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Salesforce M&A Takeover Target List Includes PSA, IT Service Desk Companies

Salesforce.com recently pieced together an M&A (merger and acquisition) target list that featured multiple PSA (professional services automation) and cloud-based IT service desk providers. While Salesforce hasn’t acquired the PSA or service desk companies targets, companies on the list reinforce a growing trend: PSA and service desk systems integrating far more tightly with Saleforce.com’s cloud.

The M&A Target Review list, prepared for Salesforce.com’s May 20 board meeting, surfaced as part of a DCLeaks report in September 2016. Companies on the target list included:

  • WorkDay, which specializes mainly in SaaS-based HR and business management software, though the company has a growing PSA platform.
  • NetSuite, which specializes in SaaS-based ERP but also owns the OpenAir PSA platform. Oracle is working to finalize a $9.3 billion takeover of NetSite, though the deal may fall apart. Not resting on its laurels, NetSuite recently upgraded OpenAir for midmarket professional services firms.
  • ServiceNow, an increasingly popular IT service desk platform for channel partners.
  • ZenDesk, which also is gaining momentum as an IT service management platform.

It’s unclear how much time Salesforce’s board has spent discussing those and other potential M&A targets.

Salesforce Plus PSA, Service Desk: Channel Implications

If Salesforce acquired a PSA and IT service desk platform, the strategy could dramatically impact the IT channel partner ecosystem. Generally speaking, IT services providers have increasingly adopted PSA and service desk software to automate operations, track customer engagements, improve marketing and boost profitability.

Autotask and ConnectWise are considered the two leading PSAs for IT services providers in the SMB ecosystem. Those platforms include some CRM capabilities, and extensive ticket management offerings. But midmarket channel partners, in particular, have also embraced PSA and helpdesk offerings that run alongside Saleforce.com’s CRM cloud. PSA names like FinancialForce, Krow Software and OpenAir as well IT service desk options like ServiceNow and Zendesk have midmarket partner momentum.

Generally speaking, I don’t think Saleforce.com is in the market to acquire a PSA offering. The company already owns a stake on FinancialForce. Potentially acquiring WorkDay and NetSuite would mostly involve each company’s HR and ERP cloud offerings, rather than their respective PSA capabilities, ChannelE2E believes.

And what about the IT service desk industry? There, ChannelE2E believes Salesforce could have sincere interest in ServiceNow or Zendesk…

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